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tv   HAR Dtalk  BBC News  May 13, 2022 12:30am-1:01am BST

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this is bbc news. we will have the headlines and all the main news stories for you at the top of the hour as newsday continues straight
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after hardtalk. welcome to hardtalk from capitol hill, washington with me, stephen sackur. the united states is supporting ukraine in its war against vladimir putin with weapons, with money and with sweeping sanctions on moscow. in that, president biden has the support of the us congress. but the ukraine war is stirring divisions within us politics, not least within the republican party. it's that age—old clash between isolationists and interventionists. my guest today is the ukrainian—born republican congresswoman, victoria spa rtz. how much is donald trump influencing this internal republican argument?
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congresswoman victoria spartz, welcome to hardtalk. thank you. let me start with ukraine. the white house and you guys on capitol hill have worked together to put together a massive aid package for ukraine. it's almost $40 billion. military assistance, financial assistance, humanitarian assistance as well. are you personally satisfied with what the government is doing right now? i think our government is moving in the right direction. i think like in any crisis, speed, agility and really strength, peace through strength is the main determined deterrent to any war in any crisis. so, i think we... this administration has been very slow. west has been very slow. but with pressure from the american people and congress, i think now we're in much better shape.
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and i think this administration now understands that if we're not decisive and if we don't deal with it effectively, it will escalate further. and they're taking it much more seriously right now. so, i think it's much better. interesting you phrase it that way. is that grudging acknowledgement from a republican that actually joe biden is handling this crisis in the right way? well, i'mjust, you know, it's... we're an independent branch. and i am, even though i'm republican, i'm very independent legislator. i'm willing to challenge republicans and democrats. and if president, regardless of republican and democrat, does something wrong, i will say it. if he does or she does something right, i will say it, too. hmm. so, i think a lot of things have been done wrong by this administration. but now, i think i see much better approach. and hopefully it will also be actually not just words but actions. so, i think that words now much better, you know. action seems much better, but remains to be seen. you have a pretty unique
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perspective on this ukraine war because you are the only member of congress who was actually born in ukraine, albeit when ukraine was part of the soviet union. do you think that gives you a special, a different perspective on what is happening? for sure. you know, any experience in life, you know, on—the—ground experience, puts you much more better understanding of issues. so, i grew up... i mean, half of my life i spent back in soviet union, ukraine, and half of my life, roughly, here in the western world. and, you know, it was very challenging time. i grew up when it was soviet union and it was interesting for me to see. i was surprised, you know, to tell you the truth, when i became congresswoman, i was asked to be on foreign affairs committee and i said, "oh, i have too many domestic issues. "we need to strengthen the country internally." so, isaid, "oh, no." you know, and then with this crisis, i felt i could be an asset. but what interested my observations...
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i didn't know most people in ukrainian government, but when i started to kind of look them up and i recently met a number of them, i was surprised because most of them are my age. hm—hm. and that is a very interesting age, we're the people that grew up in soviet union, then saw what happened when it fell apart. nineties were terrible, wild west, and then it got exposed to western culture. so this is a group of very different people that really values freedoms probably more than a lot of other people. and you've chosen to visit, i believe twice, since the russian invasion. yeah. you have family still in ukraine. yeah. what has happened to your own family? uh, it's very brutal. i actually have very old grandmas and, you know, eighties and nineties. and, you know, one of my grandma was in the city. really it's a hero city that was bombed for over a month and held the ground, city of chernihiv. and in, say, really, kyiv and really it was heroic people. but the level of destruction... i went there, honestly i couldn't even connect
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with my grandma for a while because they had no communications, no water. i mean, it was very disturbing for me to see that. but, you know, this is really heartbreaking, to see what's happened to people there. we heard from avril haines yesterday, the head of the office of national intelligence here in washington, that the us assessment is that putin has not given up on a broader effort to take ukraine. and, in her words, there is an unpredictability and an escalatory potential to this conflict, which could get much worse. how far do you want the united states to go in its support of ukraine? well, ithink, you know, west and notjust united states and europe too, have to be committed to this cause. and i think putin is not going to stop until he's stopped. and that's the reality. so, we either help ukrainians to stop him or it will
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destabilise europe, destabilise the whole world. because if you think about what they're doing in the port of odesa, where they block a lot of grains, and if you know that food and hunger, it's also a weapon of mass destruction is going to destabilise middle east, south america, countries like sri lanka. i think is going to be a big problem and the world is going to be on fire. and the only way for us to deescalate the crisis, to help ukrainian army to hold the ground. there are hawks in your own republican party like senator lindsey graham, who've talked about "taking out" vladimir putin, who have, in essence, said, "we have to do "whatever it takes to ensure putin's defeat." so how far would you go? well, i... how hawkish are you? well, ithink, you know, we have to be reasonable and rational, right? we have to draw the line. with some things, we need to be very clear that it's not acceptable. and, you know, and the whole world, notjust
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the united states, needs to say, you know, you cannot just be nuclear flag, waving nuclearflag, and talk about chemical weapons. that is something that goes beyond. but another thing is, we also need to make sure we don't get into direct confrontation where we don't have to, but we need to be decisive in our actions and help ukrainian military because, you know, i mean, it's up to the people of russia which leaders they're going to have. he's hurting them, 0k? but if they want to have bad leader, that's up to them. that is their choice and their choice they have to make internally. but he has no right to come and intervene in other countries and cross the borders and to destabilise the world. i just wonder how this crisis resonates with your constituents. your district is in indiana, many hundreds of miles from washington. i dare say that the people of your district are most concerned right now about the price of gasoline, the spike in energy costs, the rise in inflation, and the squeeze in their living standards. when, you right, now spend so much time talking about ukraine, advocating for spending more money, sending more weapons to ukraine, do you think you have your own
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voters on—side? well, ijust had the town hall, and i'm one of the few people that actually have public townhalls in my district. i had 20 last year and ijust had a few weeks ago mine in my district and after talking with town hall, people told me i should run for president! so, i guess i do get support in my district, you know, and people in my district understand and maybe they're more tuned in, you know, than other people, how important this... you know, we do have issues with inflation. we have issues of border security. but this is a separate issue that is extremely important for us and it's important for our country. and i think american people more understand now how important this and you always have a variety of opinions. but i'll tell you, i've got overwhelming support of a lot of people, and very worried what's happened in ukraine and how it can affect if it escalates further. so i think the american people actually pushed on congress... really? ..on the president to act. there's a paradox here, isn't there? because you are known as a very
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conservative republican. your message to your voters when you won election first, in 2020, was that you were a great believer in smaller government, lower taxes... that's right. big government, you said, could never be the solution to anything. that's right. and yet here you are, sitting with me, talking about your pride in the us government pledging $40 billion, an extraordinary sum to ukraine. i mean, how does that square with your message to your own voters? it is, because peace through strength costs less, so sometimes...will cost more. and you have to spend money beforehand, to be smart with your policies. and that's what reagan was great about. he understood that if you don't spend money today on some key issues, strategic issues, you know, tomorrow the cost is going to be much higher. and you have to understand, foreign policy is one of the core functions of federal government, and we need to be better. to tell you the truth, china has been eating our lunch. russia has been doing a lot of things that we didn't address properly. so i think the west need to step up, but also push
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on our allies in europe, because it's not just our problem. i think trump did a greatjob pushing on europe before and saying, "you know what? you need to step up, "you need to spend more money on these things." "it's not going to be just our problem." hang on a minute. you're praising donald trump. surely you have to acknowledge right now that if donald trump were in the white house, america would be responding to this ukraine crisis in a very different way. donald trump is the guy who described nato as obsolete, the guy who persistently refused to indulge in personal criticism of vladimir putin, who described putin, xijinping and other authoritarians as guys that he could really do business with. if donald trump were in power, america would be responding very differently to this, wouldn't it? well, let me tell you something. we can have hypothetical thing, but when president trump was president, russia didn't attack ukraine. and that is a fact. russia did not go in, intervene. russia went to great efforts to get donald trump into the white house. they regarded him as their ally. we can have a lot
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of speculation. but putin didn't dare... well, you know, that is the truth. putin didn't dare to intervene in ukraine and we didn't have a war. so we also have peace. you know, in the middle east... forgive me, but you know better than i that when russia was massing its forces to go into ukraine on february 24th, donald trump was saying it was a "genius, smart move" by vladimir putin. there is a lot of talk but i'm a person of action in what's happened. so, when putin tried to use chemical weapons in syria, donald trump called and said, "you know what? "there is 80 tomahawks, they're going to fly to your base." he didn't move further. what happened in israel will happen in peace, abraham accords. when he said that europe is too dependent on russia and he was forced in germany to actually have lng terminals, and biden�*s, you know, pulled out of that when he was actually putting pressure and sanctions on nord stream 2. so there are a lot of talk, but actions of foreign policy was a big deterrent to further aggression, and i don't think he will ever get
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the credit for that. and i don't agree with him on every issue. but on foreign policy, his strength and unpredictability actually was very effective to deter a lot of aggressors, including putin. i just wonder whether you would acknowledge that there is a fundamental division in your republican party right now between the america first trump supporters, who essentially have a message of american isolationism, and the old—style security hawks who probably supported the bushes and reagan and their approach to security matters, who are much more interventionist. and there are colleagues of yours in this house of representatives, like matt rosendale, like paul gosar, who even today, three months into this war, are essentially saying there is no us interest in backing ukraine and vladimir zelensky. what do you think of those people? well, ithink, you know, we're a very diverse party and it's good to have diverse opinion.
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but honestly, i also belong to people that say, you know what, we need to be smart when we engage in different conflicts, and to go and rebuild and spend a bunch of money in building democracy like in afghanistan, it wasn't a wise idea. i think we have to be smart where we spend money, who are our allies and what is in the strategic interests of our country. we shouldn'tjust be involved in every war and everything. no, i but i'm specifically talking about, i'm specifically talking about people like paul gosar, who you sit with on the republican benches, who said the other day... but... this, ukraine, he said, "this is russia's backyard. "biden fails to recognise this geopolitical reality." and he is entitled to his opinion. there are people like tucker carlson, too. it's ok. we're a diverse country. but this is an issue that congress is the most united. it's ok — you will always have people on edges to go to to extremes. but that is not a majority of the party. majority of party believe that we have to lead, we have to be smart in leading, and we have to make sure that it's in our national interest. isn't there a truth
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at the heart of this, which is awkward for you, which is that in the end, what we see in the words of people like congressman gosar is the fact that donald trump, donald trump still today wields enormous influence over your party? are you happy with that? well, actually, donald trump brought a lot of good people into our party that were kind of lost, i'll be honest with you, because democrat party became very extreme left and kind of catered to political elites and have their own special interest group, that kind of thing. they're the intellectual elite. the republican party was also bogged down in a lot of different drama with their own stuff. so he brought working class people that were not part of our party — they were under reagan, then we kind of lost them. and all this intellectual debate where he says, "this is real people with real issue. "let's care about people on the ground." so you're still a trump supporter and follower today. i'm not a trump follower. i'm an independent congresswoman... donald trump just endorsed
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you about two weeks ago. hill endorsed me, too. i look at broad base of my party. i can unite my party and that's why i won this election. i'll tell you something, i win very contested election every time. and i try to unite my party because we believe in limited government freedoms, in protecting people on the ground. and that's what our party is about, and we have to bring diverse people into the party. and i think working class people... yeah, but you have to decide what kind of party you are. donald trump today still insists that the 2020 presidential election was stolen. he is still delegitimizing america's democratic institutions. so i have to ask you, given that you have proudly just retweeted his endorsement of you, do you too say that the 2020 election was stolen? let me tell you, i actually voted to certify elections and donald trump called to endorse me. so i think that is something you can talk about. so trump is plain wrong. no, it's not plain wrong. i'm just saying he has his opinions... well, one of you is wrong.
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you voted to certify, so you accept it. he does not accept it. we can have a variety of opinions in the protection of law. this is a debate. and this debate is a healthy debate of western democracy. no—one entitled to dictatorship of opinion. where right now we're sitting injudiciary committee, my democrat colleagues tried to decide that only one opinion is right. that is dictatorship, and that's where we're moving. and it's very dangerous. western democracy is actually, it should be open and variety of opinions and we have to deliberate and debate, you know, and i think everyone has to... as a congresswoman, ijust make my decision based on my view of the law. i'm talking about the, if you like, the identity, the soul of the republican party. what does it say about your party that you are still dominated bya man, donald trump, who faces the very real possibility of indictment, criminal indictment for his role in the january 6th assault on the capitol? well, everyone is
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entitled to due process. and he, you know, there is no proper due process for him to... well, there is proper due process. that's exactly why the department ofjustice is still investigating exactly what happened when donald trump told his supporters to, quote, "fight like hell" just before they as a mob invaded the capital. that is due process. they are investigating. well, they investigated from just setting up the committees that are going to be targeted and hit piece, because theyjust cannot get over him. but, you know, to tell you the truth... why should america get over something which was to the outside world an attempted coup? because we are not a country of personality. we are the great country of constitution, we are the country of limited government and the people run the country. so we have too much, we give too much cult of personalities. i think that is very unhealthy. and i think president trump did a lot of positive things here, but he also energised a lot of very radical people that cannot get over. i just wonder what is unacceptable to you.
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for example, congresswoman marjorie taylor greene, who has peddled qanon conspiracy theories, who in many ways is far more extreme even than donald trump. is she an acceptable member of your party? i think what is unacceptable for me, what right now has happened with supreme court attacking, politicising supreme court, trying to undermine fundamental principles of our republic, trying to use it as a political weapon and exert undue influence on our judicial branch — that is unacceptable for me. to tell you the truth, i was in the committee... i would really appreciate just if you would answer my question. let me tell you... marjorie taylor greene recently spoke at a conference which was organised by white supremacists, white nationalists. now your own party leader in the house, kevin mccarthy, called that appalling and wrong. the question is, is she, in your opinion, someone to be fit... fit to be inside
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the republican party? i don't pay attention with people. the voters who decide who is fit, who is not. their own constituents — they will decide. but i will tell you as much as i disagree maybe with some of the opinion of aoc or marjorie taylor greene, i will fight to protect every american�*s right to express their opinion as long as they don't harm other people. that is the pure distinction of us, of anyone else. i think some of the opinions, and i hear some of the things committed are crazy, but as a congresswoman, you know, as long as you don't violate constitution and don't break the law and don't hurt the people, i have to protect your rights to life, liberty and property against coercion of the government. and even craziest opinions, people are entitled for them. 0therwise, who is going to be decide who is right, who is wrong? you know, that is dictatorship of opinion. and that's why the west is moving. it's very dangerous. when it comes to defence of rights, are you prepared to defend the right of a woman to have control over her own body? well, ithink, you know, this
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issue was also politicised. and let me tell you something, the interesting, you know, when we're talking about the supreme court decision and leak, which is really dangerous — leaking of supreme court is very dangerous. for people watching and listening, to be clear, we are talking about the possibility and in fact, the real probability the supreme court is about to issue a ruling which will criminalise abortion across this country, reversing the roe versus wade. this is actually not true. that was the right created by the supreme court, which was a lot of controversy about it. but what it will do that actually, that, but let each state how they're going to regulate that. so i think america is a federalist country. right. so we're going to have some states with people... we don't have the borders. some are liberal states with liberal views. they have some conservative states. and states have a right to decide how they're going to decide in policy in the state. so a lot of this actually will go to states, right? well, with respect, with respect, there were republicans today talking about the possibility after this ruling comes out that actually congress
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will then, if it's controlled by republicans, move to create a new law, a nationwide law criminalising abortion. and for some, they want to criminalise forms of contraception and ivf treatments as well. how far do you want to go? well, listen, ithink democrats went very... i mean, you know, there are a lot of diverse opinions, but democrats are extremely left on this issue. and i don't think american people want to have a child coming out of the mood of a woman to be killed. i mean, this is something that went really far. you know, you're a politician. you read the polls. i'm not a politician. i don't read the polls. i sit onjudiciary committee. you are very definitely a politician. no, no, no. listen, i don't read the polls. 70% of americans, according to a whole series of polls, roughly 70%, support the right of a woman in america to have an abortion. listen, let me tell you something. you know, when we sat on this committee, i don't think most americans want the child that coming out of the womb to be
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popped in the head and killed. i think most americans will have more common sense to that. and i think that is a debate that americans can have and democrats, who have very radical views, and the states will have debates on this issue. so this is actually moved to very radical left. we sat on the committee judiciary and one of my colleagues was asking my democrat colleague, at which point you're willing to say that, you know, the child should survive? and i think that's... but i'll tell you something, as someone who grew up in country where there is no value of life, i think it's so american that each individual life of born and unborn, it's actually meaningful. it's not a statistic. and that is a unique american. a final question then, because we're out of time. interestingly, you spoke to me about being raised in the soviet system and how you escaped and how you cherish freedoms in this country. that's right. look at the challenges the united states faces today from putin, from china. yeah.
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do you believe that america's democratic system is strong and resilient enough to take on and win against these challenges? for sure. i'll tell you the beauty of our republic, that regardless, they have the federalism, they have a constitution and vibrancy of people. you know, people kind of tolerate, tolerate, and then when government gets too big, it's bottom—up approach, and what i see on the ground in our states, isee... i've been in politics involved on the ground for over decades. i go to town hall events. i see so many new people that really never care about politics — they're now energised. so i truly believe this midterm election in �*24 is going to show that america is strong country with strong beliefs and, you know, we don't want anyone to mess around with us and we're going to become good. and i think we are so important for to lead around the world. by the sound of it, you'll be backing donald trump in 202a. well, listen, i don't know, we'll see what happen in �*24, but whoever is going to be
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republican nominee, i'll make sure that do my best to have a republican president. all right. well, congresswoman victoria spartz, it's been a pleasure. thank you. thank you for being on hardtalk. thank you very much. hello again. we're looking at a fairly windy day today across northern areas of the country, and there's a bit of rain around as well. this is where the rain's been over recent hours, it's been quite wet in northern ireland. a few splashes from northern england, north wales, but the majority of the rain has been working its way across scotland. it will continue to move its way eastwards over the next few hours, the rain ending to become confined, really,
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to northwestern areas of scotland, where it will be quite heavy at times, quite windy as well. these are kind of temperatures as we head into the first part of friday morning. so it is a mild start to the day, 9—11 celsius. then for many of us, it's a bright enough start as well. some sunshine to come for england and wales, but a different story for scotland, where low pressure will be pushing this band of rain, particularly across northern and western areas. through the day, there should be an improvement with a bit of sunshine coming through across eastern and southern scotland, but perhaps staying quite damp across northern areas, particularly for the northern isles. the rain reluctant to push away. in the sunshine across england and wales, the winds a little bit later to the south, and there will be a bit more of that sunshine, so warmer, temperatures reaching 22 celsius or so, but quite cool underneath those windier conditions in scotland with that rain as well. well, into the weekend weather prospects, well, we have some thundery showers that we are watching to come up from the south. however, on saturday, should be a largely dry day with sunshine for the majority of the country, given those brighter skies
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are working in across scotland, and to a degree northern england and northern ireland as well, we see those temperatures climbing a little bit here. i7 celsius or so for glasgow, 17—18 in parts of northern ireland. but it's in eastern england that we will see that day's highest temperatures — up to 22—23 celsius. saturday night time, there probably will be some thunderstorms coming up from the south. now, these are going to be hit or miss in nature. the first batch of thundery showers probably not bringing a huge amount of rain, but could bring lots of lightning, but, as we get into sunday and then monday as well, there is a greater chance of seeing some heavier downpours develop over time. still on sunday, there will be some places that stay dry with some hazy spells of sunshine. it will start to feel a little bit more humid in the south compared with recent days. i9 celsius in glasgow, still into the low 20s across parts of the south and east, but then monday, we've got rain or thundery showers that will break out a little bit more widely. some of the rain quite heavy.
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welcome to newsday, reporting live from singapore. i'm mariko 0i. the headlines: alleged war crimes by russian troops near kyiv: the un human rights council orders an urgent inquiry and the bbc sees evidence first—hand of unarmed civilians shot dead as they walk away. translation: they killed a 65-year-old- _ translation: they killed a 65-year-old. what - translation: they killed a 65-year-old. what for? - translation: they killed a 65-year-old. what for? i i translation: they killed a| 65-year-old. what for? i am translation: they killed a - 65-year-old. what for? i am not 65—year—old. what for? i am not so much furious is full of reef. —— grief. the us passes one million covid—related deaths. joe biden says each death is "an irreplaceable loss". this pandemic isn't over. today, we mark a tragic milestone here in the united states. police in the uk issue dozens more fines for downing street
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staff who broke covid rules but the british prime minister


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